On Sept. 17, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway will be filled with local food, live music, and an expected 40,000 visitors for the eighth annual Boston Local Food Festival. The event, which is free to attend, features about 100 vendors, including food trucks, cookbook authors, restaurants, specialty food producers, farmers, and fishermen. Many of the vendors will be selling food featuring local ingredients for $8 a serving. “We wanted to keep it accessible,” says Nicola Williams of The Williams Agency, who handles PR and logistics for the festival. This year’s theme is “Healthy Local Food for All.”
Williams has produced the event with the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts since its inception. “I think our first year we started at the Children’s Museum, and we outgrew that space the first year. We thought that 10,000 people would show up and we had 30,000.”
Williams, who is a Sustainable Business Network board member, says the goal has always been to promote locally grown and produced food, as well as celebrate chefs who use products grown in Massachusetts and New England. This year, John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, which is a partner in the festival, will kick off the event.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags and water bottles, in keeping with the event’s mission. Williams says it’s a “zero waste event.”
Along with a marketplace, there will be chef demonstrations. “We have a seafood throwdown with local fish caught that morning, and two chefs will duke it out,” Williams said.
She adds that it’s an event for all ages. “We have a family fun zone, with a number of activities, including live goats, which many kids have never seen. We also have the New England village, with two vendors from each state.”
The village is part of the Sustainable Business Network’s new initiative with Food Solutions New England, a regional sustainability network. They call the initiative “A New England Food Vision: 50 by 60,” with a goal of being able “to feed ourselves 50 percent local by 2060.”
It’s an ambitious goal, but Williams hopes the festival will open up dialogue and encourage participation.
Boston Local Food Festival, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.